1. exert control over or lay out the exact terms of something
dictate the terms of an agreement/contract/deal
To 'dictate the terms' is a strong phrase to use when discussing contracts or agreements. You might hear it used in meetings or presentations, mainly in the context of someone being in charge or in control of how things will progress. If you dictate the terms of something, you are making the terms and expectations clear. If you move into a rental home, for example, the landlord might 'dictate the terms of the lease' such as not having pets, paying the rent on time etc. 'To dictate' means to give orders or instructions verbally or speak words authoritatively. If you are dictating terms you are in a more powerful position than the people you are dictating to. This phrase is more likely to be used in professional situations.